Study Guide

Notes from the Underground Principles

By Fyodor Dostoevsky


In Notes from the Underground, the isolated anti-hero lives under a strict, harsh philosophy of his own choosing. He is convinced of a series of certainties, such as the necessity of suffering. He needs to find real justifications for all actions, but he always fails to do so and thus can never act. His other doctrines include: Real men of intelligence can't ever become anything. Free will is man's most prized possession. The list goes on, as does the Underground Man's vehement adherence to these beliefs.

Questions About Principles

  1. Which single principle does the Underground Man hold most dear?
  2. Check out Part I, Chapter Ten, when the Underground Man goes all "idealist" on us in talking about the Crystal Palace. Is he mocking this sort of idealism, or does he claim it as his own?
  3. Why does the Underground Man value free will so highly?
  4. Does the Underground Man persuasively justify his radical system of beliefs?
  5. From where does the Underground Man derive this radical system of values?

Chew on This

Although the Underground Man claims to be a romantic, he is really a hardheaded realist for whom nothing is sacred.

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